What Documents Do You Need to Adopt a Dog (or other pet)?
You've selected a pet, the staff has agreed that it's a good match,
and now it's time to take the final steps to adopt a shelter pet!
Pet adoption is an exciting but also time-consuming process. It's always best
to call ahead and find out what
documents you need to bring with you to adopt a pet from the shelter.
Here is a list of some of the more typical documentation that is requested.
- Picture identification with your current address.
Two pieces of government-issued identification is ideal, and at least one needs to
have a photo. A driver's license is an example. Be prepared with an additional
piece of ID just in case. If you don't have a photo ID, bring several other
pieces of identification including a recent utility bill with your name and
your current address.
- If you're renting your home, bring your lease or a
letter from the landlord.
Your lease should explicitly state that pets are allowed, otherwise ask your
landlord to write you a letter. The letter should show your name and your
address. It must state that you are permitted to have pets, and how many.
Your landlord's contact information should also be displayed.
If possible, give your landlord notice that you are going to be adopting
a pet and ask if he'll be available should the shelter decide to contact him.
- If you own your home, you might be requested to
provide proof of ownership.
This can be in the form of a mortgage payment statement,
the deed to your home, or any other document that shows that you are the legal
owner of that home.
- Documentation about your current pets.
Some shelters may ask to see proof of vaccination for your current pets,
spay/neuter certificates, and/or proof of municipal license.
- Photos of enclosures. If you're adopting
a caged pet such as a rodent or a bird, the shelter may request a photo of
the enclosure you intend to keep it in. For dogs, a photo of the yard may
be requested (a requirement to adopt certain dogs may be to have a fenced
Have a list of references handy, including their phone numbers (ask them
for permission before using them as references!). If you've had pets before,
including a veterinary reference is a good idea.
Other things you will need to bring can include:
- Cash, debit card, or credit card for paying
the adoption fee. Some organizations may accept a personal check; ask if
you are unsure.
- Everyone in your household.
Many shelters require that every person in your household meet the pet you
may be adopting. This is to help ensure that everyone gets along and agrees
to the adoption.
Some shelters even ask that potential dog adopters bring in any existing
canine friends, so that they can assess the compatibility of your current
dog(s) with the new dog (cats will not need to meet like this).
Bring a friend with you if possible, so that you can go through the
adoption process while your dog waits in the waiting area - he likely
won't be allowed to walk through the shelter and should not be left alone
in the car. Otherwise, you may need to request a separate meet-and-greet
appointment for the dogs to get acquainted.
It might seem finicky and a hassle to get together all the documents
you need to adopt a dog, cat, or other pet, but having them ready will
make the shelter adoption process
smoother and faster.